“On this sale in particular, the consultative process was really important, because this sale is as big and as hairy and as complicated as you get,” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy said on the Senate floor. “We are for the first time selling F-35s and MQ-9 Reaper drones into the heart of the Middle East. Never done before.”
In a November statement, human rights group Amnesty International criticized the US sale of military equipment such as armed drones and 50 F-35 Lightning II aircraft to the UAE, saying they might be used in the armed conflict in Yemen.
“The United States must resolutely refrain from supplying weapons that could be used in the conflict and not transfer weaponry to the UAE, or risk complicity in likely war crimes in Yemen,” the statement said.
Last month, in a statement announcing the sale, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the accord “offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to positively transform the region’s strategic landscape. Our adversaries, especially those in Iran, know this and will stop at nothing to disrupt this shared success. The proposed sale will make the UAE even more capable and interoperable with US partners in a manner fully consistent with America’s longstanding commitment to ensuring Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge.”
Earlier, the US State Department approved a potential $600 million deal of four MQ-9B Reaper drones and associated hardware to Taiwan.
The UAE is set to become the first Arab country to receive the stealth fighters as well as the second country in the region after Israel.